I posted this elsewhere, but I wonder what you think.
From the Compleat Mozart:
I'm only using Lang Lang as an example, since I saw him perform some Schubert a few years ago and it's as if he grew fingers in the playing in order to be louder, racier, more manic and showy. It was highly entertaining and "pyrotechnic", but is this the reason Mozart's music is often described as "light", and treated like the salad before the meat? I still hear it said, and when I see Liszt performed, the thunder echoes in the sky long after I've gone home.We may guess how Mozart played the violin, for he valued in performers what we value in his music: beauty, clarity, logic, balance. When he was pleased with a performance, he reported that "It went smoothly as oil." Not for him the pyrotechnics of the violinists Pietro Antonio Locatelli or Giovanni Battista Viotti. Once, after hearing a difficult violin concerto performed, he informed his father that he enjoyed it, but added, "You know I'm no lover of difficulties." The paradox is that Mozart's playing down of virtuosity for its own sake in his own violin concertos makes them harder, not easier, to perform well. Sheer technique and bravura cannot be used in these works to compensate for a lack of thoughtful, sensitive musicianship.
I don't really know what I want to say, other than having read this passage by Neal Zaslaw, it struck me quite forcefully. It helped me locate why Mozart's reputation suffered in the 19th century, and also, how music developed after Mozart's death. A couple of pages later, Zaslaw states that "Beethoven's violin concerto of 1806 owes more to the example of the famous composer-virtuoso Giovanni Battista Viotti than to that of Mozart."
By the way, I don't blame virtuoso players showing their undoubted skills. I'm going to see Lang Lang later in the year! And there's surely room for every taste in music. But the more difficult part is "thoughtful, sensitive musicianship", isn't it?